Area residents can give the gift of food this holiday season by contributing to local pantries through the annual Send Help campaign.
Sponsored by The Marietta Times and WMOA Radio, the campaign encourages folks to send donations directly to the pantries in a season where they see increased need.
"People ... start getting heating bills," said Bill Farnsworth, director of the Marietta Community Food Pantry. "I think they spend more money (on) medical bills. ... And then some people are seasonal workers."
Thirteen pantries in Washington and Wood counties are participating this year, including the newest, the 3-C Food Pantry located at the Cutler Community Center. The pantry was started a year ago and has served between 40 and 80 families a month, said director Bruce Kelbaugh.
"But we're hearing it's going to pick up because of the ... reduction in food stamps and access to gardens," he said.
Like other area pantries, 3-C relies on donations from the community. Thirty to 40 individuals, churches, community groups and businesses have made annual pledges to the pantry and additional assistance would be appreciated, Kelbaugh said.
Where to send donations
Belpre Area Ministries, 2310 Washington Blvd., Belpre 45714 (serves Belpre and Little Hocking)
Beverly-Waterford Food Pantry, P.O. Box 7, Beverly 45715 (serves Waterford and Watertown townships)
Community Food Pantry of Marietta, 318 Front St., Marietta 45750 (serves Marietta, Devola, Harmar and Reno)
Gospel Mission Food Pantry, 309 Lancaster St., Marietta 45750 (serves Marietta and anyone in need)
L.A.M.B. Pantry, c/o Judy Gilham, 305 Fourth St., Lowell 45744 (serves Coal Run, Lowell and Highland Ridge)
Marietta Church of God Food Pantry, 501 Colegate Drive, Marietta 45750 (serves the Marietta area)
New Matamoras Food Pantry, P.O. Box 724, New Matamoras 45767 (serves New Matamoras and vicinity)
Newport Food Pantry, c/o Newport Baptist Church, 235 Green St., Newport 45768 (serves Newport, Lawrence and lower Independence townships)
3-C Food Pantry, P.O. Box 32, Cutler 45724 (serves Decatur, Fairfield and Wesley townships)
Tri-County Food Pantry, P.O. Box 41, Lower Salem 45745 (serves Lower Salem, Dalzell, Elba, Macksburg, Warner and Whipple areas)
Wood County Emergency Food Co-op, c/o Polly Shepherd, 1502 43rd St., Parkersburg 26104 (serves 17 food pantries and feeding programs in Wood County)
Western Washington County Food Pantry, P.O. Box 151, Barlow 45712 (serves Warren, Barlow, Decatur, Dunham, Fairfield, Palmer and Wesley townships)
Williamstown Food Pantry, c/o Karen Fenton, 129 E. Fifth St., Williamstown 26187 (serves Williamstown and vicinity)
Source: Times research.
"It'd be a God-send. It would be tremendous," he said.
The campaign is one of the largest contributions of the year for the Community Food Pantry, Farnsworth said.
"Our funds are getting low, and we need all the help we can get," Farnsworth said, noting other local pantries also need assistance. "Last year we served over 8,000 people, and this year we're going to be close. ... We send out every donation we get ... it goes back out toward food."
While food donations are appreciated, representatives of local pantries say money is preferred because most of them can purchase food at significantly discounted rates through the Southeastern Ohio Food Bank.
"Money goes a lot further than someone going out and buying something to donate," said the Rev. Dennis Williams, with the New Matamoras Food Pantry.
Jasmine Rogers contributed.